Cholestatic Liver Diseases

Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

December 01, 2018

January 25, 2023

Cholestatic Liver Diseases
Cholestatic Liver Diseases

Cholestatic liver disease, also known as cholestasis, is a condition in which the flow of bile from the liver is either slowed down or blocked. It can be acute or chronic and can affect individuals of all age groups. It can be classified as extrahepatic cholestasis, which occurs outside the live and intrahepatic cholestasis, which occurs inside the liver.

Cholestatic Liver Diseases Symptoms

The symptoms of cholestasis are similar to hepatitis, which is one of its causes. The following are the symptoms of cholestasis:

  • Nausea
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • White or clay-coloured stool
  • Itching
  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Yellowing of skin and eyes
  • Difficulty in the digestion of some foods (Read more: Indigestion treatment)
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Cholestatic Liver Diseases Causes

Causes of cholestasis based upon the age group affected are:

  • Causes of cholestasis in infants and children
    • Genetic cause like zinc storage disorder
    • Mutation of a gene called cirrhn gene
    • Byler’s syndrome (a genetic autosomal recessive disorder)
  • Causes of cholestasis in adults
    • Prescription drugs
    • Herbal treatments
    • Over-the-counter drugs

Causes of cholestasis based upon the location:

Cholestatic Liver Diseases Diagnosis & Treatment

The doctor will prescribe the following tests if you are suspected to have cholestasis:

  • Liver function test: It will reveal increased levels of bile and serum alkaline phosphatase.
  • Imaging tests to assess the liver are as follows:
    • MRI of abdomen
    • Ultrasound imaging of the abdomen
    • CT scan of your abdomen
    • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography

Treatment of cholestatic liver disease involves identification and treatment of the underlying cause of the condition. The treatments for cholestasis are as follows:

  • Symptomatic treatment: Pruritus (desire to itch or scratch) is the most common symptom, which may later cause sleep disturbances and thus, needs to be managed. Anion exchange resin like cholestyramine is commonly prescribed for the treatment of pruritus. Antibiotics are the second line of treatment for pruritus.
  • Specific treatment: Various antibiotic and corticosteroid therapy may be initiated depending upon the cause of the condition.

(Read more: Liver diseases types)


  1. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Cholestasis
  2. Heathcote EJ. Diagnosis and management of cholestatic liver disease.. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2007 Jul;5(7):776-82. PMID: 17628332
  3. Hofmann AF. Cholestatic liver disease: pathophysiology and therapeutic options.. Liver. 2002;22 Suppl 2:14-9. PMID: 12220297
  4. Pollock G et al. Diagnostic considerations for cholestatic liver disease.. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Jul;32(7):1303-1309. PMID: 28106928
  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Evaluating the Genetic Causes and Progression of Cholestatic Liver Diseases (LOGIC) (LOGIC). U.S. National Institutes of Health; [Internet]

Medicines for Cholestatic Liver Diseases

Medicines listed below are available for Cholestatic Liver Diseases. Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.

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